Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Donald Trump to Visit KSC

Florida Today journalist James Dean reports that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will visit Kennedy Space Center on Monday, October 24.

The schedule, whose details are still being worked out, anticipates Trump flying into KSC's former space shuttle runway, touring the spaceport and talking with industry representatives in a roundtable discussion hosted by the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast and Space Florida, the EDC confirmed.

“Since 2008, the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast has led the way to educate presidential candidates regarding the need to support critical aerospace programs to keep the United States competitive and viable,” said Lynda Weatherman, the organization's president and CEO. “We are pleased Mr. Trump has accepted our invitation to participate in this industry roundtable and are hopeful the Clinton campaign will follow suit.”

After touring KSC, Trump may hold a public rally at another location, but that was not confirmed as of Monday afternoon. Campaigning is not allowed on federal property.

Trump has said little until now about NASA and the U.S. space program, and what he has said has not shown much interest or support.

In November 2015, Trump told a ten-year old boy he'd rather spend money on fixing potholes than on NASA.

In August, Trump said in Daytona Beach that NASA is a space program “like a Third World nation,” which is laughable considering all that NASA is doing now. He also suggested that the purpose of the space program is to perpetuate government jobs, commenting, “Look what's happened to your employment.”

On October 10, Space News published an article with space policy statements from both the Trump and Clinton campaigns. The responses from the Clinton campaign were longer and more detailed than those from the Trump campaign.

It should be noted that these responses are typically written by a staffer. I've written them myself when I worked on campaigns. Maybe the candidate sees it. Maybe not. I find particuarly telling the responses to the final question, “Any other comments you would like to make?”

The Clinton campaign response is two paragraphs. The Trump campaign response is simply, “No.”

In my opinion, visits by politicians to Kennedy Space Center trolling for votes accomplishes little.

Outside of a few neighboring towns that heavily lean Republican, few people care enough about the government space program to let that sway their vote one way or the other.

Over the last three presidential elections, Brevard County has reliably voted for the Republican presidential candidate:

  • 2004 Bush vs. Kerry 57.6%-41.5%
  • 2008 McCain vs. Obama 54.5%-44.1%
  • 2012 Romney vs. Obama 55.6%-42.9%

Senator Barack Obama visited Titusville in August 2008, where he made various policy comments and proposals, but there's little evidence to suggest it made any difference. President Obama delivered a space policy speech at KSC on April 15, 2010, and came to watch the STS-134 launch on April 29, 2011, but 2012 election results show those visits meant little one way or the other.

Republican candidate (and space enthusiast) Newt Gingrich delivered a space policy speech in January 2012 during the Florida presidential primary, but lost anyway to Mitt Romney, who mocked Gingrich's proposals and said he would fire anyone who proposed a Moon base. Gingrich lost to Romney in the Florida primary by a margin of nearly fifteen points.

According to the Brevard County Supervisor of Elections, as of this writing the county has 409,074 registered voters. Of those, 172,326 (42.1%) are Republican, and 130,498 (31.9%) are Democrat, with the rest third-party or non-partisan. (I'm registered non-partisan.)

In the March 15, 2016 Republican presidential primary, Donald Trump took 46.3% of the vote in a field of thirteen candidates on the ballot. Florida senator Marco Rubio finished second at 24.8%.

So why is Trump coming here?

As of this writing, The FiveThirtyEight.com forecasting site projects Hillary Clinton will win the State of Florida 49.5% - 44.9% for Trump. He needs to increase reliable Republican voter turnout in the state if he has any hope of catching Clinton.

Someone somewhere in the Trump campaign must think that running around Kennedy Space Center trashing President Obama will help his campaign.

I can't see how that will make any difference, because people who believe that nonsense were already intending to vote for him.

The Economic Development Commission stated that they have also invited Ms. Clinton. There's no indication she will accept. Right now, she has no reason to do so. Touring KSC wouldn't make a difference. It didn't for Barack Obama.

FiveThirtyEight.com forecasts, as of this writing, that Clinton has an 88.1% chance of winning the electoral college and therefore the Presidency. They show her leading the irrelevant popular vote by 49.8% to 42.7%. She needs to focus on “purple” states that would swing Democratic, and to help her party win the Senate.

Florida is one of those states, but more Democratic votes won't be easy to find in Brevard County. So she goes elsewhere.

The Miami Herald reports that Clinton is gaining on Trump in Florida, and in particular with independent votes.

President Obama will appear on Clinton's behalf Thursday in Miami Gardens, the day after the third presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nevada. Miami generally is considered a Democratic stronghold in the state.

Both sides are trying to increase turnout from their base. Which is why Trump comes to Brevard County, while Clinton surrogates go to Miami.

Just don't think Mr. Trump is coming here because of a newly found passion for space exploration. Or that it will matter for the future of the U.S. government space program.

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